Let’s face it, naps are a godsend for you, and your baby. After all, while baby gets to rest and recharge, Mummy gets to shower, pay the bills, and load the dishwasher at long last! Studies also show babies who nap tend to sleep better at night and are less cranky during the day than those who don’t.
Experts agree that the best thing you can do to help your little one get into good sleeping habits is to stick to a consistent daily routine. Of course, that’s nearly impossible to do in the first three months of your child’s life, when he’ll fall asleep randomly throughout the day and for varying amounts of time, but a pattern should develop as he gets older.
Around the four-month mark, babies typically take two to three naps (one in the morning, one mid-day, and one, which tends to be brief, in the early evening). By six months, your baby will probably have two set naps (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), each lasting one to two hours. This will continue until your child is 12-18 months old, at which point he’ll probably drop his morning nap.
Here’s how to get your little one into good snoozing habits now:
- Put your baby in his cot at the first sign he’s tired, whether that’s yawning, rubbing his eyes, or starting to get cranky. Try not to rock or feed him to sleep as he’ll come to rely on this and may struggle to fall asleep on his own.
- Signal to your baby that it’s time to nap by closing the shades and turning off the lights. Make the room as dark and quiet as possible.
- Don’t keep your baby up too late at night, as this can interfere with his naps the following day. Similarly, don’t let your little one nap too late in the afternoon. If he’s still snoozing by 5pm, try to gently wake him, otherwise he won’t be tired by bedtime.
- If you’re home, put your baby down for naps in his cot every time. When you’re out, it’s fine for him to doze off in his buggy or car seat.
- Your baby may cry when you put him down to nap, but that’s just because he’s tired. Encouraging him to snooze regularly will do you both the world of good. If toddlers resist, insist that they at least spend some quiet time in their cot. This may mean playing with toys for an hour, but at least they’ll have had a little time to unwind and recharge.